If your school's career center has a well-established on-campus recruiting program, consider yourself lucky. It's the first and maybe last time prospective employers will seek you out.
That's why it's so critical to understand how on-campus recruiting works -- and doesn't. Let's set the record straight on some prevalent myths.
Myth: Only business and technology majors benefit from on-campus recruiting.
Reality: Many employers who interview on campus will talk to students from any major. Insurance companies, car-rental agencies, some consulting firms and other organizations are well-known for recruiting students from across the spectrum.
Myth: On-campus recruiting is only for seniors, especially those about to graduate.
Reality: "Students often don't realize that employers also use on-campus recruiting to find interns," says Lisa Lowe of the University of Georgia Career Center.
Lowe points out that alumni also often believe employers aren't interested in interviewing them as part of on-campus recruiting -- this is not always true.
Myth: On-campus interviews are just brief, informal chats that can be taken less seriously than the real thing.
Reality: You must prepare for on-campus interviews just as you would for one at the company. Research the organization, dress appropriately, be ready to answer tough questions and be on time.
Myth: Only large companies participate in on-campus recruiting.
Reality: While it's true that many firms that recruit on campus are larger companies, some midlevel and smaller firms also find new talent there.
Myth: The employers recruiting on campus are the only ones hiring new grads right now and have the only jobs available to them.
Reality: Not even close. The firms recruiting on college campuses are the ones that can do so cost-effectively. Does that mean the thousands of other firms out there aren't recruiting college students at all? Of course not; they just do it differently.
Myth: If I don't show up for a scheduled on-campus interview, it's no big deal.
Reality: It's a huge deal -- times two. For you, one no-show may win you a yearlong or even permanent ban from participating in on-campus interviewing. Why? Because when employers come to campus expecting to talk to students who don't show up, they get mad and sometimes decide not to come back to your school.
Your decision to sleep in instead of going to your scheduled interview hurts not only you, but also your career center, your fellow students and your school.
Myth: All I need to do to get a job is participate in on-campus interviewing.
Reality: It's never wise to pin all your hopes on one job hunting strategy. So be smart and diversify your job hunt by pursuing several strategies.
Myth: If you're not majoring in the disciplines a recruiter requires or prefers, you cannot get an on-campus interview.
Reality: So you don't have the "right" major to get an interview -- or so it seems. Contact the company directly and ask to be considered anyway. Sometimes recruiters have empty time slots to fill during their time on campus. Maybe you can get one of those slots -- but only if you're politely persistent and ask.
Myth: The career center tells employers who to interview.
Reality: Career services professionals may make suggestions to employers, but the final call is up to the individual recruiter. If anything, the counselors at your career center will be fighting to persuade employers to interview more students from your school, including those with diverse educational backgrounds.
Myth: A successful on-campus interview will lead directly to a job offer.
Reality: More likely, a successful on-campus interview will lead to a second interview, probably at the company. But you'll be one significant step closer to the job you've worked so hard for, all because you were ready to impress employers when they came calling.